Today on World Children’s Day, I am reflecting on my role as a mother and how I want to reimagine a different world for my children. I want a world where all children, regardless of where they are born, have the opportunity to live a happy and healthy life and reach their full potential.
I am Lebanese and live in Beirut with my husband and two children. I am very much aware of the impact that the COVID-19 global pandemic; the economic downturn and the August 2020 explosions have had on our already weakened public health sector. Vulnerable populations such as women and children (including the growing refugee population) now face even greater challenges to accessing quality health care.
That is why I am so proud of my company and the fact that the Johnson & Johnson Foundation is supporting UNICEF’s efforts to help increase quality and accessible Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Services in Lebanon.
Although we have government subsidized Primary Health Centers (PHCs) in Lebanon, there has been an increase in the private health sector which now provides 82 percent of all service delivery in Lebanon.
Historically, the PHCs have tended to serve the poorest and most vulnerable populations, in particular mothers and children. But due to the situation in Lebanon, more and more people are increasingly turning to PHCs for care, putting extra strain on the health system. And, although many services at PHCs are free or subsidized, a vast majority of vulnerable people still cannot afford to access care for themselves or their children. It is therefore, critical, that the health systems are strengthened to help close the gap in access to basic quality health services.
At Johnson & Johnson, we are committed to supporting and championing those on the front lines of care through the Center for Health Worker Innovation. As such, we will be joining with UNICEF in Lebanon over the next three years to support the Maternal Newborn Child Adolescent Health (MNCAH) initiative. This will address the ongoing needs of pregnant women, newborns, children under-five and at-risk adolescents in Lebanon—working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and the PHCs.
This year, the goal of the MNCAH is to strengthen frontline health worker capacity in 30 PHCs and support 10 priority PHCs with financial support for essential service provision to reach approximately 4700 of the most vulnerable pregnant women and pregnant health workers. The initiative will also provide communication training for behavioral change; policy and advocacy support to better connect community and primary health systems; and the use of new innovations and technologies to help improve health outcomes.
I strongly believe that these initiatives will elevate the position and status of frontline health workers and improve public trust; creating a much stronger and more resilient public health service for the mothers and children who need it the most. It’s time to #BacktheFrontline.